Mayor Ed Lee wants big infrastructure spending package

While other cities might be shying away from large construction spending during the current economic trudge, Mayor Ed Lee has a different strategy.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Lee announced that he supports a $325 million in bond sales to fund projects aimed at improving The City’s infrastructure and creating jobs in the suffering construction field. The bonds include portions of the $248 million streets bond approved by voters in November and a 2008 parks bond.

“To me, it’s a holiday gift to announce this,” said Lee, flanked by supervisors and city department heads.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, an advocate of the streets bond, said the appropriation would serve to quell “Depression-level” unemployment levels in the construction field. Lee, the former head of the Department of Public Works, acknowledged criticism that relying on bonds to fund basic street paving is not the best way to conduct maintenance. But the mayor said the streets bond is The City’s way of “catching up.”

The bond sales are slated to fund earthquake safety upgrades for fire stations, ramped-up road repaving in January and a $4.4 million boost for the Brannan Street Wharf project on The Embarcadero to be ready in time for the 2013 America’s Cup yacht race.

In all, Lee estimates that The City will invest $9 billion in infrastructure in the next five years.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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